Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Laws of Grave-ity: post death torture

Sometimes, atleast in our tradition, the worst thing that people can do to you is to die. Not that it is a crime, but it makes things terribly inconvenient for the family. And inconveniencing others is Rude.

The post-death project management requires different data flows, has multiple overlapping and conflicting objectives, making it a nightmare. An important aspect of this event is Informing Others. There is a tradition that if someone very close to the me dies, I become temporarily "untouchable" for a few days, the duration determined by degree of closeness and with due higher weightage given to paternal ties than to the maternal ones. At the end of the period, I magically become non-"untouchable" by having a ritualistic cleaning. At the very least, I must take a bath immediately. At the worst, I become "untouchable" for 2 weeks.

None of this appears to be strictly necessary, of course. This "untouchability" was probably a forced quarantine conceived as a common social defense against deadly epidemics that wreaked havoc during the past few centuries. The higher weightage to the paternal line is a dead giveaway (forgive the pun) - because many families were joint families, joined along the paternal ties.

Anyway, because nobody likes being untouchable, and the news of someone unfortunate demise means atleast a mandatory bath that a lot of people abhor (!), we'd rather not hear about someone's death. Our society has created wonderful loopholes to escape these rituals. I sometimes think our shastras are tactics of two kinds of jokers - one, the sadists, who kept adding restrictions, and other, the hackers, who kept finding loopholes. Both will be laughing up their sleeves looking at us.

One such loophole is that the family of the dead person doesn't always inform immediately relatives who are need-not-visit-and-in-return-dont-want-to-inconvenience-you types. So, they inform in the morning, before you take your bath. We don't want to waste precious water and electricity, you know. The second, and admittedly, the cleverest is to write down on a piece of paper the name of the person who died, send it to the recipient with the message "somebody died in our house, and since you dunces won't be able to guess, wait till morning, and just before you take your _daily_ bath, open the chit" ...

Now, how many can come up with that ?

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3 Comments:

At Monday 13 July 2009 at 2:55:00 PM IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At Saturday 1 August 2009 at 11:18:00 AM IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At Monday 14 September 2009 at 1:33:00 PM IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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